Thursday Night Football Week 8 Preview and Prediction: Arizona Cardinals vs. Green Bay Packers
Arizona Cardinals vs. Green Bay Packers Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds
Date: Thursday, October 28, 2021
Game Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
Where to Watch: FOX/NFL Network
- Key Stat: J.J. Watt has been ruled out for Arizona. Per PFF, Watt has been the highest-graded of their ten defenders that have played at least 200 snaps.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Green Bay Packers Preview
Green Bay heads to Arizona down their top two wide receivers, as both Davante Adams and Allen Lazard have landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. They might get some reinforcements, though — Marquez Valdes-Scantling is reportedly making the trip. While he's technically still on I.R., the team has until midday Thursday to make a determination on his availability.
Arizona is not without its own injury issues. DeAndre Hopkins is questionable, and J.J. Watt has been ruled out. However, Watt has had a resurgence in Arizona, anchoring the interior of their defensive line and grading out as the Cardinals' best defensive player at PFF among their ten defenders who have played 200 snaps.
Other than their dismantling of Matthew Stafford in Week 4, the undefeated Cardinals haven't faced a particularly challenging set of opposing quarterbacks. They look great on paper defensively but have played three rookie quarterbacks in seven games, including their beatdown of Davis Mills and the Texans last week. Hosting Aaron Rodgers is a different story, even with the Packers down Adams and Lazard, and especially because Arizona will be without their interior disruptor, Watt.
One player who is likely to step up for Green Bay is Aaron Jones. Since the start of 2019, Adams has missed six games that Jones was active for. In those six, Jones averaged six targets, 4.8 receptions, and 56 receiving yards while catching four touchdowns. However, in all other games since the start of 2019, he's averaged just four targets, three receptions, 22 receiving yards, and 0.16 receiving touchdowns.
While Jones is obviously always a big part of the Packers' offense, Green Bay has long seemed more willing to feature him in specific spots. This would be one of those spots, as they'll need his dynamism to cover for Adams being out of the offense. However, if Valdes-Scantling is back and the Packers perhaps lean on Jones more, there's reason to believe their offense can still be functional even without Adams, and they've actually gone 6-0 in the games Adams has missed since 2019, with 30 or more points in five of them.
Arizona is rolling right now, and Kyler Murray and company have all cylinders firing. Zach Ertz joined up last week and immediately caught a 47-yard touchdown in his first game. He fits in alongside four wide receivers, all of whom have made plays so far this year. If Hopkins is out, more defensive attention will shift to A.J. Green and Christian Kirk, but the Cardinals will likely just use rookie Rondale Moore a bit more, and he's been electric.
Still, I think this spread is too wide on the news of Adams missing. Arizona deserves to be a solid home favorite as an undefeated team who has looked every bit the part this season, but the loss of Watt will impact their defense some, and Green Bay is one of the best teams they've faced this year. So I'm taking the points.